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Jacob Steinfield, Assistant Account Executive
May 7, 2020

An acronym soup for breakfast: COVID, WCS, and KPIs

It does not look like our distancing days are going to go anywhere soon, but even when mobility comes back – and we rise dramatically from the couch – consumer relationships with brands will have been transformed.

There's some debate over habit-forming timelines. Conventionally, 21 days was the magic number needed for permanent changes to occur (based on research published in Maxwell Maltz's 1960 bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics), but more contemporary researchers have found the length closer to 66 days. Either way, our COVID journey will certainly surpass both, and we have undoubtedly developed new attitudes and conditions that will remain as the world slides back into normalcy.

This is especially true in consumer expectations for brands as embedded community leaders, given the instantaneous pivot to solemn commitments to employees & customers in response to this emergency. There is a new standard for purpose from these entities: The uncountable statements of “togetherness” and ventures for collective healing will not be allowed to merely dissipate in the post-COVID era (which will not be such a binary distinction either). Learning from those who have delivered effectively and creatively in these conditions (see Light, Coors) will be imperative as consumers are more inclined than ever to use their buying power on companies whose actions and values align with their own – and uncommitted to companies who merely shouted for everyone to remember they existed. As Adweek reports from social psychologist Hillary Haley, “[People] don’t just want to be helped, they want to provide help themselves, and they’ll reward brands that act as facilitators.”

Take Spotify for example. This week, they launched their Music Relief project, with a new Artist Fundraising feature that gives listeners the option to donate to their favorite artist directly or a relief initiative of their choice. Donations will be matched by Spotify up to $10M, and users are given immense freedom to provide much-needed support.

Spotify

During this time, our client Eastern Bank has also successfully delivered on the values of their long-standing Join Us For Good brand campaign. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have pledged $10 million in aid to those most affected, became founding donors and administrators for the $25 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, and provided pathways for people to join them in giving efforts along the way. The brand has deep roots in local volunteering and service, with this additional leadership making it clear that commitment to their communities is not new or temporary, but endemic to their brand’s DNA. 

Brands & marketers must consequently re-calibrate the levers they use to turn communication and brand identity into desired outcomes.

This brings us to an important consonant jumble: WCS – What Constitutes Success?

Achieving a quantifiable level of success is not a new challenge in the advertising space. The rise of digital marketing made the wide world of impact measurement a much more complicated game. Near infinite opportunities for companies to connect with people, ever-consuming throughout their day, creates a dizzying array of data points to synthesize. No longer is a sales lift or focus group – both limited by bias – the only ways to measure effects. We can see the resonance in real-time with brand recall and changes in buyer habits, and instantly tinker, AB test, and iterate. This can, however, restrict the horizon of our improvement targets in the endless pursuit of immediate incremental benefit. It is important to take a step back from your anchored campaign norms to identify larger potential opportunities, especially as messaging expectations change.  

Customers are less motivated than ever by undiluted sales pitches or vague statements of pandemic camaraderie, growingly conditioned against them, and capable of tuning out through ad blockers and nearby alternative devices. Attention needs to be truly earned, and people react positively and strongly to premises that are relevant, important, and authentic to them – especially when those messages are tied to action beyond the advertising or purely-commercial realm.  

As The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull reports, “[Leadership] vacuums have often been filled by brands that see social issues as an opportunity to connect with customers — especially younger ones, who want to believe that there’s a right way to spend their money.” While it may be challenging in our current circumstances to rationalize, brands are on the right track trying to compel outcomes that benefit society. In fact, consumers have growingly defined brands themselves by their social practices and philanthropic priorities.

Cooperation opportunities are key for marketers to validate brands as forces of communal good, but there is a huge opportunity and need for brands to give more direction in achieving such results. While hope and community belonging are fabulous intentions, the onslaught of purpose-based messaging inundating our timelines and networks with solemn background music often do not give specific, convincing instruction to achieve these goals. This is where marrying commonly-shared desired outcomes to internal metrics of improvement can create business objectives that are sincerely important to the customer – like the aforementioned Coors activation. Coors raised spirits with a unifying metric of donating 500,000 beers, while also focusing on definitive financial impressions by contributing all merchandise profits to COVID relief efforts. 

Cause-based marketing may pose difficult questions for ROI, but we can use our skills in translating data-driven insights to make cause-related messages as productive as our commerce-related ones. 

To do so, marketers must re-define their KPIs – Key Performance Indicators

Good marketers understand that true ROI is based on the lifetime value of your relationship with the customer, and the positive externalities that being in their network entails. To achieve such fruitful relationships, marketing initiatives must find a compelling way to demonstrate not just shared values, but a common purpose, all while facilitating ways to connect the two. Consumers understand that advertising is aimed to drive action, and when that action is one they consider worthy, it creates an association of aligned incentives.

Considering the enormous challenges in global health, environmental protection, and human rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be compelled to think favorably of a campaign intentionally designed to improve these worthy outcomes. Converting favorable perception into action can be a difficult task, but brands can ignite such behavior by communicating KPIs that are meaningful to both the company and consumer. 

Conveying a measurable definition of success for your civic engagement program helps alleviate public concern about motives. Non-monetary KPIs can also be constructive, such as donated cans of non-perishables, volunteer hours, or shelters built. These not only create attainable goals, but valuable bonds for the company and consumers to work together toward. 

To build this new type of relationship with customers, brands often partner with philanthropic organizations that have endemic popular trust. It’s a form of assuaging concerns about the integrity of their efforts. However, with hundreds of brands flooding the market with cookie-cutter COVID-19 responses, such partnerships alone cannot galvanize when consumer individuality is not recognized. Advertising is often powerful because it speaks directly to a specific need, but when a sea-of-sameness permeates throughout, that influence dissipates.

Whatmomslove

To break this mold, AMP helped its client GIANT Food Stores launch the national #MoreForAll campaign, aimed to mitigate panic shopping by spreading direct, actionable instructions and driving awareness through digital conversations. Across media platforms, and with influencer help, local individuals instructed followers on ways to extend the life of their produce and urged them to be considerate of their peers. AMP was able to measure overwhelmingly positive sentiment and engagement, the topic clearly resonating with followers, and GIANT was able to see definitive reductions in over-buying.

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Even when the COVID-19 era subsides, there is a heightened expectation and opportunity for companies to continue to support communities. Large organizations can use their scale and connections to create value beyond their immediate spheres of influence, and engrain themselves positively into the public consciousness. When normalcy returns, brands should look at the successes of these charitable causes moving forward, and see that ROI can be earned and sustained with marketing that optimizes its positive impact on consumers’ daily lives. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Brands are increasingly defined by their conduct as community leaders and responses to social needs
  2. Leading firms are developing stronger relationships with consumers by empowering buyers to make a philanthropic difference with their spending
  3. Cause-marketing is most effective when campaign KPIs are also pertinent to consumer ideals, and messaging clearly illustrates how specific actions by both parties can catalyze an outcome that is mutually rewarding.

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     The upcoming Google chrome changes have been a buzzing topic in the programmatic advertising industry for almost over two years now, pushing brands and vendors to build alternative solutions to audience behavior tracking and targeting. Many businesses have been successful in finding ways to target without using cookies. Samantha Weiss, VP of Data Strategy and Programmatic, recently sat down with Venture Beat to talk about how our client, Stop & Stop, has been using Artificial Intelligence to target audiences.      “AMP began testing cookie-less solutions in the back half of 2021 to prepare for the eventual deprecation of third-party cookies. We believed it was critical to test new targeting while we had long standing targeting and measurement capabilities to benchmark against. We knew it would be incredibly important to hit the ground running, rather than begin testing once third party-cookies were no longer available. Google’s recent announcement delaying the removal of third party-cookies to the back half of 2024 anchors our position on preparing for the cookie less world.  We are excited for the additional time as capabilities & betas continue to be introduced and opened. We will use the extension to focus not on what we are losing with the deprecation of cookies, but rather how we create optimized and efficient media plans with the targeting that is available.      One partner we have seen great success with is Dstillery. We partnered with Dstillery in Q4 of 2021 to test their ID free Custom AI Solution.  We saw strong results in our e-commerce campaigns, outperforming cookie-based audiences by 72%.  With Google’s first extension, we have iterated on the models and data utilized for the ID Free segments.  With the added time, we are excited to continue to optimize the segments and move these audiences from testing budgets to always on targeting capabilities.” - Samantha Weiss (VP, Data Strategy & Programmatic) Read the full Venture Beat article here.

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for June 2022. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+ (sometimes 100,000+). After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. Lazy, Hazy Days of June 2022 As we collected the top three queries from Google’s Daily Search Trends, we noticed that the aggregated sum for June was not as large as the first 5 months of the year.  We know what we collect is only a sample of the total number of Google searches conducted in a day, but we had the pleasant feeling that maybe people were spending more time outside, in real life, and less time using devices.  Hey, it could be true. Looking through the data, we can see that the Supreme Court overturning of the Roe vs. Wade decision was the biggest news story of the month. In Entertainment news, the conclusion of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard court case and the disorder affecting Justin Bieber drove people to search. The NBA and NHL had their Finals in the month of June and we’ll examine the phrases attached to both of those league’s playoff and championship series. We’ll delve into Doodles, holidays, TV shows, film trailers, award shows, and the latest economic woes.  Lastly, we will analyze the curious case of June 6th.   All right - let’s go.   Google Holiday Doodles Those clicks on Google’s altered logo get counted as queries. Check out the top Doodle driven queries for June 2022: Father's day - 6/18/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Juneteenth - 6/19/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries Juneteenth gets a Doodle this year as it did last year.  This national holiday occurred on the Monday after Father’s Day in 2022, which also got its own Doodle.    More Holiday Queries Continuing the theme of holiday queries, we present the rest of the non-Doodle driven phrases here: When is Father's Day - 6/3/2022 - 100,000+ queries Is Juneteenth a federal holiday - 6/19/2022 - 200,000+ queries Happy Father's Day - 6/19/2022 - 100,000+ queries Summer solstice 2022 - 6/20/2022 - 500,000+ queries Father’s Day gets 2 appearances in the Daily Top 3 outside of the Doodle-attached query.  It’s interesting to see people asking when the holiday was happening. What we have seen over the past 3 years of data collection is that the search volume attached to Mother’s Day is more than the search volume attached to Father’s Day. We looked into the charts over the last 5 years and we found something interesting:   The search interest gap seems to be closing. The two peaks appear to be closer in 2022 as compared to previous years. We’re not sure why this trend is happening but the two holidays are becoming more equitable in terms of search interest.   A question about Juneteenth’s federal holiday status, which it became in 2021, and the first official day of summer round out our list for this keyword category.   All The Entertainment Here are the shows and films people were excited about in June 2022: The Boys - 6/2/2022 - 200,000+ queries Ms Marvel - 6/7/2022 - 200,000+ queries Hustle - 6/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Spiderhead - 6/17/2022 - 200,000+ queries Hocus Pocus 2 - 6/28/2022 - 200,000+ queries Stranger Things' Season 4 - 6/30/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Season 3 of The Boys and the miniseries Ms. Marvel debuted last month. June was a big month for Netflix. Two films distributed by the streaming service spurred strong search interest -  Adam Sandler’s film Hustle and the science fiction psychological thriller film, Spiderhead. At the end of the month, part 2 of Stranger Things’ Season 4 was made available. Finally, the trailer of the Hocus Pocus sequel made the daily top 3 on June 28th. People still like awards shows enough to use Google to learn more about them.   Tony Awards 2022 - 6/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries BET Awards 2022 - 6/26/2022 - 200,000+ queries Although the search volumes are not what they were before the pandemic, both these award shows had a search resurgence in 2022.     We may not ever see the pre-pandemic search volume come back for award shows but they are showing signs of life.   To wrap up our entertainment-related phrase examination, both of these phrases were queried over five million times within a 24 hour period in June. Johnny Depp - 6/1/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Ramsay Hunt syndrome - 6/10/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries The first of the month had the verdict of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial and Justin Bieber explained that he is suffering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome and needs to postpone dates.  We hope he gets back on the road soon.  His concert tour was named as a top entertainment topic for this summer in our Top Trends for Summer 2022 report.   Roe vs. Wade We discussed it in our May report that we would be monitoring the search volume for this Supreme Court decision and here’s what we collected: Supreme Court decisions today - 6/21/2022 - 200,000+ queries Roe vs Wade - 6/23/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries Roe vs Wade - 6/24/2022 - 10,000,000+ queries This topic dominated the search trends report for 3 days as people were trying to learn more about the court’s decision.  We will keep tracking other key SCOTUS decisions as the year continues. Stephen Breyer - 6/29/2022 - 500,000+ queries Stephen Breyer retired as a Supreme Court Justice and Ketanji Brown Jackson filled his seat on the bench.    The January 6th hearings continued in June 2022 and this witness drove people to search. Cassidy Hutchinson - 6/27/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Cassidy’s testimony was held on the 27th which drove people to learn more about her and what she had to say under oath.   Sports The NBA finals were held in June and here’s the timeline of the queries related to the championship series: NBA Finals - 6/2/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Warriors - 6/5/2022 - 1,000,000+ queries Golden State Warriors - 6/5/2022 - 500,000+ queries NBA - 6/8/2022 - 5,000,000+ queries NBA - 6/10/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Celtics - 6/10/2022 - 2,000,000+ queries Draymond Green - 6/11/2022 - 100,000+ queries Klay Thompson - 6/16/2022 - 200,000+ queries Draymond Green - 6/17/2022 - 200,000+ queries We were rooting for a different outcome here in the AMP Boston office but we look forward to next year.   The Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals also occurred last month. Check out this timeline of queries leading up to the eventual winner. Rangers - 6/4/2022 - 200,000+ queries Rangers - 6/8/2022 - 200,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/15/2022 - 500,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/24/2022 - 500,000+ queries NHL - 6/25/2022 - 500,000+ queries Tampa Bay Lightning - 6/25/2022 - 200,000+ queries Colorado Avalanche - 6/26/2022 - 200,000+ queries Congrats to the Colorado Avalanche for their win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL may not be as popular as the NBA from a search volume perspective, but the post-pandemic search timeline was nice to see.   Economic Woes With inflation, cryptocurrency values tanking, and the stock market dropping, what else could happen. Oh yeah, mortgage rates are rising. Bitcoin price - 6/12/2022 - 500,000+ queries Stock market - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Mortgage rates - 6/15/2022 - 500,000+ queries   None of these three phrases were queried over a million times in a day so we guess people weren’t that concerned or only a certain percentage of the population was concerned.   Weather Warnings Beyond Doodles, Google’s daily trends report can get skewed by user clicks on weather warnings.  We present the top queries related to weather in June 2022: Yellowstone National Park - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Excessive heat warning - 6/13/2022 - 500,000+ queries Severe thunderstorm warning - 6/14/2022 - 500,000+ queries The Yellowstone keyword is related to a flood that happened on the 13th. The other two phrases are related to mobile phone alerts that become queries when clicked on.  Weather-related keywords are making the daily top 3 more often.  There may be an idea of a 2022 retrospective in the works.   What Was Up With June 6th? The daily top three was made up of phrases related to popular tech companies. Apple - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries Google Docs - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries LinkedIn - 6/6/2022 - 500,000+ queries Apple had their 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC22) on the 6th, which does drive searches from people seeking the latest from the company. The other two queries, we believe, were related to outages.  LinkedIn was reportedly down on the 6th.  We don’t see any evidence of Google Docs not being available on the 6th, but that’s our guess based on the history of this phrase. Did the Apple conference cause outages?  One may never know.   Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we utilize search trends data for all of our clients and we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.